Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Case for HRT

Some of you will not be interested in this, so you may be excused.

To make a longer story shorter, start with the fact that Donica and I have both had complete hysterectomies. Translation: early/rapid menopause! We both immediately went on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), popping the Premarin pill (estrogen only) every day.

Then came the Freak-Out over HRT: the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, etc. The early tests seemed to indicate a higher incidence/risk for just about everything. You name it.

So we both stopped. End of story, right?

Wrong! All these years later, I recently went through a slew of tests, including a total-hormones blood test, and found out all my hormones are not only low but abnormally low. The low end of Estrogen, for example, is 24 (24 what, I don't know), and mine was 10. The neurologist said she wanted it to be 80 (80 what, I don't know).

Also, my muscle mass was weak. Important point for one who travels around with heavy suitcases/backpacks all the time!

So anyway, after finding out that new tests are reassessing the Freak-Out over HRT (not nearly as much risk as they initially thought), and after back-n-forths trying to make sense out of it, the doctor suggested I take Estratest, which is for Estrogen AND the smallest dose of Testosterone. (Both she and Donica assured me the latter would not give me unwanted hair!)

When I asked what all those women used to do before HRT, she said, "They died younger and they didn't have careers!"

Now here's the clincher, in case I needed to be convinced (and I did): guess who makes Estratest! Yup! And because Donica works for them, guess how much it costs me! Yup! The pharmist said: "You must have pretty good insurance to have it come up at $0."

So now you know why I'll probably be a bit perkier in the days to come. HA! Now, if we can get Donica to get her mammogram done, maybe she can go on it as well (she drags way too many suitcases/backpacks/brief cases around!). The one concern for her is that breast cancer IS in her family. And that DOES make her more susceptible to the risks. The question is, however, if the benefits far outweigh the risks. Maybe?

WTMI, I know, but I did excuse you, remember?

On Friday I get on a train to go visit Astrid who lives in Arkel, Holland! Another blogger friend from my other blog, Shutterchance, who has also crossed over to here. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Other Amsterdam

Later this afternoon, Donica and I fly back to Amsterdam on the same Delta flight! How unusual! But that always makes it so much nicer, even if we are sitting in different parts of the plane (her company policy is that employees sit in Business Class since they usually walk off the plane and go right to work!).

Anyway, someone from my other blog asked if I could show some photos of Amsterdam's "seamy" side. So, since I'm doing that there this week, I'll show you the photos all in one swell foop!

This really IS the proverbial and literal "other side of the tracks" behind Centraal Station in Amsterdam. A couple months ago I wanted to go find some more gable stones but had to walk through this section to get there, along the warehouse wharfs.

And of course, I wondered if any people really live there!

And do any kids really play with these toys???

Clearly someone lives here! And they air their laundry just like the best of them.

Some spots really had me walking at a clip. Does this look as creepy to you as it does to me?!
The seed of Chucky?

But as I neared the end of the warehouses, I actually felt I was in New England. And I DID RELAX a bit more!

I even felt some Good Karma and suspected the entire neighborhood had just appreciated in value!

I'm guessing every city in the world, great or small, has it's "other side of the tracks." And we all know what that means. The Great Divide of those proverbial tracks is a challenge to most of us. The Rich and the Poor. The Haves and the Have-Nots. Never the twain shall meet?

Wouldn't we be surprised if someday the divide disappeared altogether!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

As seen in Nice, France, on our recent cruise.

This is the same photo I have posted on Shutterchance as a reminder to be thankful for all that we have.

For those of you who celebrate this holiday,
please be safe and full of joy!

I am eternally thankful for YOU and the part you play in my life.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Through the Woods

"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go..."

Last Friday was my day to go pick up Nicholas after school for an overnight. Donica was on her way back from Amsterdam and we were both dying to have more time with him.

BUT, the slight problem was the pine tree that had fallen across the driveway on Wednesday evening during a thunderstorm...and which I didn't find out about till I went to get the mail late Thursday afternoon.

So, with explicit instructions from Donica to NOT use our chainsaw (since it has some quirks she said I wouldn't be used to), I called and found this man to do his business. Thankfully, I found him early enough in the day to get out of the drive by 1:15p to go pick up the BLB (Big Little Boy).

Day dies in the west fairly early these days, so we had almost 2 hours in the woods before it was too dark. First things first, we always, always, always have to give our friend, at the beginning of the path, some love. "G'ma, I've been loving this tree ever since I was three!"

Then we had our apple snack so we wouldn't spoil supper. He always goes to his favorite perch, time after time, year after year. What a nice vantage point to see the world from his eyes.

And then we were off and running...well, except for all the times we had to stop to tie that blasted shoe! "G'ma, you tie it." But I told him he was closer to the ground! And we finally figured out how to do it just right to make it stay!

There's a river bed that feeds the lake-pond way in the back but, sadly, it's dry as a bone right now. (I think I'll call all the Native American spirits roaming the woods to do a rain dance for us!) But it makes a good place to explore, with some nice, high banks.

Then we (or I should say HE, since he's closer to the ground!) started finding things we've never found on our other visits to the woods! As he started crushing this aerosol can to smithereens, I had visions of gangrene setting in!

Somehow he manages to find the coolest burls! I spelled the difference between "burl" and "burrow" and he told me, "G'ma, that's bur-row," like didn't I know the difference!

This one was still on the tree....

....and was full of sap, he said!

At this point, it started feeling downright creepy! Time to go home, I decided. HA! :)

But not before he found the wintergreen berries. "Look, G'ma! They're right where they were before!" Indeed.

Folks, I don't care how many times we take this wee adventure, it's always new and newly exciting as though we discovered it all for the first time. Isn't that what Life is all about!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Conversation Peace

I guess you had to be there! But this series of photos is one of my happiest memories of our cruise.

We had just arrived in Venice shortly after lunch and, by mid-afternoon, had a boat excursion that took us to the nearby islands of Murano (glass) and Burano (lace). As we entered Burano close to sundown, this couple caught my eye (I showed you one of the pics in my last post, so maybe you'll recognize them).

Did you catch that? Talk about body language. The hands. Don't you wonder what they were talking about?!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Airing One's Laundry

If I counted right, we visited 20 different cities on our cruise, with only 7 ports of call! That's a lot of gadding about!

It didn't take me long to start a new collection: outdoor laundry, drying Nature's way! In no particular order:

Sorrento, Italy (click to enlarge or squint real hard)

Nice, France

Rome, Italy

Venice, Italy (again, enlarge or squint)

Barcelona, Spain

Corfu, Greece

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Livorno, Italy

Burano, Italy

It's fun, isn't it, to see how the rest of the world lives! Kinda like us, right?! :)

Friday, November 09, 2007



Donica is still in Amsterdam for another week but I'm in Atlanta and actually spent the night with Nicholas last night while Amy is in Chicago. I arrived home Wednesday evening and feel like I'm still on the go. But little by little I will settle down to start giving you some glimpses into our wonderful cruise. And to start catching up on YOUR blogs!

First off, you all know what it's like to receive a gift you didn't expect, and that's exactly what happened as we were on the way to our last port of call, Rome, on our way back to Barcelona. It was a day at sea when we rounded Italy's toe and cruised through the Strait of Messina, only 3.1 km (1.9 miles) between Italy and Sicily.

To the east of us, on the Italy side, was the region/city of Calabria.

To the west of us, on the island of Sicily, was Messina.

And there ahead of us was the strait, looking like no more than a narrow passageway!

On Italy's mainland side was this little red and white lighthouse.

On Sicily's side was this black and white lighthouse.

That was enough to make anyone's day! But wait, there's more!
Within minutes of passing through the strait, we passed by the Stromboli volcano that has been in continuous eruption for the past 2000 years!

I thought the white cloud was exactly that--a white cloud! And what a beautiful cloud it was, I thought.

As we rounded the southwestern point of the island, we could see the little village of 400+ residents who don't care a bit about the volcano being in constant eruption, because it never spews forth its lava on their side of the mountain!

The crater spewing forth its eruptions is on the north side of the island, there on the top left. And that's when I was told by another passenger about the 'cloud' being the volcano's eruption!

And thar she blows as we left her in our wake on the way to Rome. Both coming and going she was a beauty to behold. I'll never forget her.

That's what I mean about Freebies. Never once did I know we'd be gifted with the Strait of Messina, a glimpse of Sicily, or Stromboli's volcano! It wasn't an excursion; it wasn't a port of call. It was just free!